Belize on the Yucatan Peninsula is a country of contrasts. From the Central American rainforests to the barrier reef in the Caribbean you will find many different experiences. There are beautiful places and fascinating historical sites to explore both inland and around the many beaches and islands.
When to go
The climate of Belize is hot and humid all year round, varying by only about 4 degrees throughout the year, but the rainfall varies markedly from North to South. The wet season is considered to be from the middle of May to November in the south and from June to November in the north. The period between November and February is transitional and the dry season runs from February to April. The peak periods are between mid December and mid January and the Easter period. Many visitors to Belize like to visit in May or June when prices are slightly lower and the country is less crowded.
Belize was formerly known as British Honduras and the official language is still English, although Spanish is also widely spoken. The country has more than ten different cultures including Creole, East Indian, Maya and German Mennonites. Tourism has grown considerably in Belize, with cruise ship arrivals contributing to the increase in visitors.
The many attractions include the massive rainforests, Maya ruins some of which have not yet been excavated, the famous Belize barrier reef and various activities centred around the coastal areas where boat hire is available and travellers can enjoy world class SCUBA diving.
Things to do
Experience the history of the Maya civilisation by touring the sites left from the Classic period. Around 40 percent of Belize is under protection and there are many temples to visit, sites that have been restored and unexcavated ruins to explore. Many of the ruins have been overgrown by the jungles and are difficult to find.
The wildlife of Belize attracts many visitors. There are hundreds of species of birds, exotic animals and colourful fish to see. Bird watching is particularly popular and many species can be seen from the resorts close to the jungle and the nearby roads. A prized sighting is that of the keel billed toucan, Belize’s national bird. As you would expect in a region where there are dense rain forests on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other, the country is also home to many exotic tropical plants.
Belize has the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere and was once described by Jacques Cousteau as “one of the four must-dive locations on this blue planet”. There are some stunning scuba diving and snorkelling sites in Belize with something for novices and experts alike. Other water based activities include kayaking in and around the reef and islands, all kinds of fishing, sailing and boating. Boats were used by the ancient Maya people for transport between islands, upriver and along the coast and boat hire is still available to explore these areas. Whatever your individual interests, you will find plenty of interesting activities to fill your vacation in Belize.
Adriana Frederick writes regularly on world travel for many websites and blogs. She is based on the south coast of England and has written articles on boat hire for various publications.